Should You Replace Your Roof Before Selling Your Home?

If the time has come to put your home on the market, then you may not be sure what to do about the aging roof. You could replace the roof before selling the home, or you could list the home as-is. Both of these options have their pros and cons, and you'll have to determine for yourself which approach is better suited to your financial situation and the housing market in your area. Here are some points to consider and factors to think about as you make this decision.

How much will the roof replacement cost?

Before you make any big decisions about your roof, it's wise to contact a few roofing companies and get some estimates. (Make sure you get estimates from at least three companies since quotes can vary widely.) A roof replacement may run anywhere $1,700 and $8,400 for standard shingles on a typical ranch home -- and you may pay even more for a larger home or specialty roofing materials. 

Once you know about how much a roof replacement will cost, you can consider whether or not replacing the roof makes financial sense. You could replace the roof and then ask that much more for the home -- if the resulting price is realistic in your area. Or, if the roof replacement is more than you can possibly afford, then you know you'll have to sell the home as-is.

Do you perhaps only need a few repairs?

Even if your roof is nearing the end of its serviceable life, it may have a few years left in it if you just have the parts that are in the worst shape repaired. When roofing contractors come out to give estimates, ask them if this is a possibility and how much they estimate such repairs would cost. If the cost of repairs is approaching that of replacing the entire roof, it's probably not worth it.

On the other hand, if you find out that $500 or $800 worth of repairs can buy your roof another 3 to 5 years, you'll probably want to spring on this deal. The roof won't be perfect, but many home buyers will consider a reasonably priced home with a roof that will need to be replaced in a few years -- as long as it's not currently leaking or on the "replace ASAP" list.

What condition is the rest of the home in?

If you were to sell the home as-is, would the roof be the only thing the buyer would need to replace? Or would it be yet another item on a long list of expensive repairs the buyer would have to make? If the rest of the home is in great condition, then your ideal buyer is probably someone who wants to walk into a finished home without having to do a lot of repairs. Having the roof replaced may help you find a buyer much more quickly.

If the house is already a bit of a fixer-upper, then your potential buyer is someone who is already prepared to do some work on the home. Having to replace the roof probably won't turn this type of buyer off. A poor-condition roof may lower the amount that they offer, but it probably won't keep them from making an offer.

Will the damaged roof lead to other damage if you don't address it?

If the roof is just starting to look a bit worse for wear, but has a few more years left, then you might be able to get away without replacing it. However, if the roof is in such bad shape that it's beginning to leak, then you'll almost certainly want to have it replaced before you list the home. You would not want a storm to roll in, leading to water damage and mold, while you're trying to find a buyer. Some buyers will overlook an older roof. Few will overlook mold and rot.